Double probing of human spermatozoa for persistent histones, surplus cytoplasm, apoptosis and DNA fragmentation

Reprod Biomed Online. 2008 Apr;16(4):570-9. doi: 10.1016/s1472-6483(10)60464-6.


Individual spermatozoa were assessed with pairs of probes for persistent histones and cytoplasmic retention, persistent histones and DNA fragmentation, and persistent histones and apoptotic markers. The individual spermatozoa were treated sequentially with combinations of probes for these cytoplasmic and nuclear biochemical markers. Sperm fields were recorded with computer-assisted imaging, and staining patterns with the two probes in the same spermatozoa were examined and scored as light, intermediate or dark (mature to arrested-maturity spermatozoa). The effects of arrested sperm maturation were similar with respect to the cytoplasmic and nuclear characteristics of spermatozoa in 84% of cells, indicating that cytoplasmic and nuclear attributes of arrested sperm maturation are related. However, there were moderate (intermediate-dark or intermediate-light patterns, 14.5% of cells) or major (light-dark patterns, 1.6% of cells) discrepancies in the intensity of the double staining patterns. Thus, testing with single maturity markers may not be fully reliable. These findings are important with respect to: (i) arrested sperm maturation; (ii) potential efficacy of antioxidant and similar therapeutic strategies in subfertile men, as spermatozoa with infrastructure defects due to mismaturation or maturation arrest are unlikely to respond to interventions; and (iii) detection of adverse male environmental exposures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Compounds / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis* / genetics
  • Apoptosis* / physiology
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Shape
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry*
  • Cytoplasm / pathology
  • DNA Fragmentation*
  • Histones / analysis*
  • Histones / physiology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Infertility, Male / diagnosis*
  • Infertility, Male / pathology
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Research Design
  • Sperm Maturation / physiology
  • Sperm-Ovum Interactions / physiology
  • Spermatozoa / abnormalities
  • Spermatozoa / chemistry*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Histones
  • aniline blue
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Caspase 3